Business Traveller

Middle East luxury hotels: 6 that take opulence to new level

Claire Malcolm, CNNUpdated 13th July 2017
A butler comes in handy for those unexpected chores.
(CNN) — Nothing succeeds like excess, as Oscar Wilde so rightly said.
These luxury hotels in the Middle East have taken that message to heart, putting together some of the most extravagant experiences that your money probably can't buy.
Even if you can't check in, you can check them out.

1. Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Emirates Palace hotel Abu Dhabi
More like a palace, less like a hotel.
Courtesy Emirates Palace
The endless opulence at Emirates Palace -- a sprawling cupola-clad palace includes 114 decorative domes and 1,001 crystal chandeliers that come with their own full-time cleaning crew.
Covered in marble and gold from wing to wing -- a 1,100-yard (one-kilometer) stroll in itself -- the $3 billion hotel takes every opportunity to drive home the luxe message, whether with a gold bar vending machine, edible gold desserts or $958 dish of braised abalone with truffles served at its Hakkasan restaurant.
In 2010, the hotel erected the world's most expensive gem-laden Christmas tree, valued at $11 million.
West Corniche Road, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; + 971 2 690 9000

2. Burj Al Arab Hotel, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

The Burj Al Arab is the third tallest hotel in the world.
The Burj Al Arab is the third tallest hotel in the world.
A functionary with a clipboard guards the drawbridge to Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, Dubai's most iconic hotel, where white Rolls-Royce Phantoms pass for hotel taxis, the staff to guest ratio is 8:1 and $2,700 buys a scenic aerial arrival on the rooftop helipad.
Visitors can take a yellow submarine ride to the underwater depths of Al Mahara restaurant and splurge $675 on 1.75 ounces (50 grams) of Beluga caviar before a sky-high nightcap, and bill to match, with a $1,300 Bon Fire cocktail.
Burj Al Arab, Dubai, United Arab Emirates; +971 4 301 7777

3. Le Gray, Beirut, Lebanon

Le Gray, Beirut: The biggest, brashest boutique hotel.
Le Gray, Beirut: The biggest, brashest boutique hotel.
Courtesy Le Gray, Beirut
Owner and collector Gordon Campbell Gray has filled one of Beirut's most extravagant buildings with more than 500 handpicked works of art, including a candy-covered baby elephant sculpture by Nadim Karam.
Le Gray is also home to Bar ThreeSixty, a favorite haunt of Lebanese designer Elie Saab, has panoramic city views and a blue lacquered baby grand as its kooky centerpiece.
Martyrs' Square, Central Beirut District, Lebanon; +961 1 971 111

4. Qasr Al Sharq, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

600,000 Swarovski crystals -- go ahead and count them.
600,000 Swarovski crystals -- go ahead and count them.
courtesty of qas al sharq
Carpet so thick you need skis to navigate the corridors and rooms of imported marble compose a 46-suite homage to all things Italianate at the Qasr Al Sharq.
The ceilings sport 132 pounds (60 kilos) of gold leaf. A chandelier studded with 600,000 Swarovski crystals hangs over the main staircase.
Recommended: Mataam Al Sharq restaurant's signature dish of whole roasted fig bird in pomegranate sauce.
North Corniche Road, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia;+966-92000-9565

5. Al Bustan Palace, Muscat, Oman

There's plenty to reflect on poolside at Al Bustan.
There's plenty to reflect on poolside at Al Bustan.
Courtesy Tr
The grandfather of palatial opulence in the region, Al Bustan Palace has dominated the Gulf of Oman coastline for almost three decades.
Traditionally attired Omani doormen welcome guests with one hand resting casually on curved silver daggers tucked into their belts, watching with amusement as jaws drop and necks crane in front of the 124-foot-high (38 meter) octagonal lobby done up with with rosewood, mother-of-pearl, gold leaf inlays and a colossal three-ton, 59-foot-high (18 meter) Bohemian crystal chandelier.
Royal watchers may catch an occasional glimpse of Sultan Qaboos, who reportedly retains an entire floor for personal use.
Other distractions include lagoon-facing rooms with private terrace access and a half-mile-plus stretch of beachfront, the longest in Oman.
Al Bustan Street, Muscat, Oman; +968 2479 9666

6. Mardan Palace, Antalya, Turkey

Ok, so technically Mardan Palace isn't in the Middle East as we describe the region, but it gets on our list because of the sheer flamboyance of the Turkish Riviera's most outre digs.
With the largest swimming pool in the Mediterranean -- some 172,000 square feet (16,000 square meters) -- guests can take the plunge or opt for a gilt-crowned gondola ride instead.
The fantasy vibe continues with a Michael Jackson-esque zoo and dedicated spa snow room, plus life-size replicas of Istanbul landmarks on every corner and a private beach made from 9,000 tons of imported Egyptian sand.
Spa time at this hotel means a shrink-wrap Vacustyler gym session (a favorite circulation booster for NASA astronauts) or a $700 champagne bath and massage.
Kundu Köyü, Oteller Mevkii, Lara 07110, Antalya, Turkey; +90 242 310 4100
Editor's note: This article was previously published in 2013. It was reformatted, updated and republished in 2017.